Problems with my new 686

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May 26, 2009
I shot my new S&W 686-1 4" yesterday for the first time. This 686 is a truly beautiful firearm without a scratch on it. The gun was just about new when I bought it, maybe only a few rounds through it and only a faint turn line on the cylinder. It has a tight lock up and no end shake at all. All was well as I put a box of 38s through it. I couldn't even feel the recoil and the trigger was great. Then the 357s came, and well, let me back up a second.

The first problem I noticed before putting a single round through the gun when loading/unloading the gun a few times at my campsite (I plan on using this as my truck/camp gun). The cylinder would bind against the frame. It seems that if I hold the gun so that the muzzle is pointed towards the sky, and I try to close the cylinder, it binds on the little lip/notch on the frame's bottom right corner. There seems to be just enough play in the ejector rod so that the cylinder can catch that lip and sit on top of it. I have to make sure the cylinder is pushed all the way forward when loading the gun and locking the cylinder into place.

The second issue I ran into is a bigger problem: as I was unloading spent cartridges, after a half box of 357s, the cylinder bound up and stopped spinning on the yoke/rod. I had to unstick the cylinder by wiggling it around. Then it spins freely for a few turns and binds back up. Weirdest thing I've ever seen on a revolver....This binding caused DA pulls to be highly irregular and unpredictable.

Any thoughts? BTW this gun has the M stamp near the model #. I also inspected the grips and it looks like the screw near the front of the grip frame that touches the spring was messed with, as well as one of the screws on the side plate. I imagine this is from the S&W recall but I don't see how that could affect the cylinder problems I'm experiencing. Everything else on the gun seems mint.

I'll try to get some pics in a few days as my camera is acting up. It seems I've been having a string of bad luck with revolvers lately. I recently had binding/lockup issues with my new productoinSP101 that rendered it useless, and now my 20 year old Smith is out of commission just the same!
I'd detail strip it and do a thorough cleaning. Use proper bits. If you don't know how to detail strip it, either find out online or take it to a qualified gunsmith and have him do it.

It sounds like you got some powder residue where it shouldn't be.

The recall had to do with the firing pin, as I recall, so the issues you cite weren't involved in any recall.
The screw in the front of the grip frame tensions the mainspring. It isn't uncommon for people to loosen it off to obtain a lighter trigger pull, but this can also lead to light strikes on primers. When S&W modified the gun (the M stamp means it has had a new firing pin and firing pin bushing installed under the terms of the recall) they would have used the correct screwdrivers and the screw should not be damaged in any way. It sounds like someone attempted some home gunsmithing. If the gun fires without problems I wouldn't worry about that. As for the other issues, I'm no gunsmith, but I suggest you check there is no debris under the extractor star that may be causing it to protrude slightly. Also check that the ejector rod is screwed in tightly, having it work loose and start to unscrew itself has caused many a gun to lock up.

Beyond that, ask Old Fuff or take it to a gunsmith. Or you can send it to S&W. looks like the screw near the front of the grip frame that touches the spring was messed with, as well as one of the screws on the side plate.

One more thought on these buggered up screws: Even if the screw on the front of the grip frame is tight, it is quite possible the previous owner removed the screw and ground it down so it would lighten the trigger and still allow it to be screwed in tight. I agree with the other poster in that it is highly unlikely that S&W buggered up those screws. Some bubba has been "messin with it."
Make sure the ejector rod isn't coming unscrewed. My buddy's pre-10 K locked up tighter than a drum on account of this. If someone took it apart and didn't get it tight enough going back together, it'll work itself loose during firing.
I would have a ‘reputable’ gunsmith go through it completely and make everything right. Unfortunately, good gunsmiths are hard to find. I use Bowen Classic Arms since he’s readily available and does good work. Of course, you could send it off to the factory and have them inspect, repair and adjust everything. It may take some time, but they will return it with good results. In fact, with that particular set of issues and configuration, that would be my first choice.
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Read through Sylvan Forge's superb thread on M10 (K-Frame and L-Frame are essentially identical) dissassembly and assembly for an appreciation of how your pistol is put together ( ). I've piddled with them for years and this thread got me away from bang & pray to a more enlightened approach: no more springs flying across the room and parts not going back together... :rolleyes:
I highly doubt that Smith & Wesson boogered up your weapon; seems too me
like Bubba was working from his kitchen table under poor lighting, and half
blind in his good eye; and actually did not know what he was doing. I had
very similar problems with a Smith & Wesson model 28-2 .357 magnum that
I purchased sight unseen over the Internet. The gun looked great, just as
the seller had said; but he failed too mention that the gun had timing issues.
I might as well blown that $270 + dollars up a wild hog's a$$, cuz I had to
hire a professional gunsmith too solve this issue~! :uhoh: :eek: ;)
Sounds like what just happened to my identical gun when the ejector rod came unscrewed. I screwed it back in tight and all was fine.
More bad news. Man I think I got burned on this gun.

Looking very closely at the ejector button screw it seems that screw was tampered with as well.

I played around with spinning the cylinder to get it to bind up again and I noticed it was turning more freely and there was play fore/aft. I ended up being able to nearly pull the cylinder off of the gun?! I didn't want to yank it all of the way off but probably got it like 1/3 an inch before a bell went off in my head that rang *this isn't good*. After inspecting the crane it looks like the crane itself wiggles which is causing the cylinder to be able to move along the axis of the rod and bind against the bottom rear corner of the frame.

Do you guys think I should send this to S&W or try to find a local gun smith? I'd like to get the story behind the bubba-mods on this gun and get the jacked-up screws replaced.
If you are not going back to the seller for satisfaction, then back to S&W it goes. You will have to expect a bill for the un-Bubbaing. The warranty applies to original owners and NEVER covers Bubba's screwups.
Did you check the ejector like I and several others advised? S&W revolvers are not complex. There's only so much that can be wrong, and EVERYTHIING you have described sounds like a loose ejector rod.

The cylinder cannot move past the retention pin unless the ejector rod is loose or the crane is badly bent.
And I thought NOTHING ever goes wrong with revolvers! Ha.

I'd take it back to the seller if at all possible.
It is EXTREMELY common for S&W revolvers to have the ejector rod unscrew if it's not properly tightened.

On the first night I shot in my club's D/A revolver league, easily half of the line in the first string of the first timed fire match, had their ejector rods unscrew, including mine. It seems not to happen so much in slow fire, but becomes much more likely in timed and rapid fire. Tighten it down with padded pliers, and maybe use a little of the less aggressive LocTite.

As far as strain screws being messed with, I found that on an otherwise good 3" Model 65 which I bought from CDNN. It had weird inconsistent failures to fire. I checked to make sure that the strain screw was in all the way, and it was, but the problems continued. Eventually my smith removed the strain screw and compared it to a stock one. It had been cut off and screwed all the way in. He replaced it with a stock part and the problems went away.
I am actually out of town so I haven't tried disassembling anything and checking the ejector rod. I am getting back home tomorrow so I will try it then. I've never taken apart a revolver though. Is tightening the ejector rod a simple task? I'm not sure I want to try to take off the side plate like in the referenced thread. I don't see how this would cause the crane to wiggle though. More info and photos to come in the next few days.
As promised here are some photos. I checked the ejector rod and it was tight.

I believe the problem is due to excess slack between the crane/frame interface. The excessive play causes the cylinder to touch the bottom-rear "bump-stop" machined on the frame. I can actually pull the cylinder off of the yoke if I want to.

1. Ejector rod--why doenst' the rod have threads all the way on it?
2. BUbba screws
3. Cylinder forward
4. Cylinder binding on the bump-stop


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5. Excessive play
6. Crane
7. More bubba screws
8. The forcing cone looks good.

So what do you gentlemen think I should do? Do you think a gunshop can fix this easily or does the crane need to be replaced via S&W, if they even have one? Should I try hounding the guy that sold me the gun for my money back (it was a private party transfer). I certainly paid top dollar for this 686.

Your thoughts are appreciated.


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"I can't recall fixing a problem on a S&W or Ruger that was not owner caused."

I shot mys Super Blackhawk revolver so much the transfer bar broke. And on my Redhawk, the hammer hook (which interfaces with the hammer spring strut) broke...twice! No abuse...but lots of use. I do keep spares.
Would slamming the crane open/close cause this? I am always careful to open/close the cylinder but I don't know if the previous owner was.
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